Saturday, June 16, 2007

No, I Did Not Marry

One of the ironies of Mom's life is that every six months she has to sign a statement that she has not remarried. If we do not get these pieces of paper sent in, her US military annuitant paychecks stop coming.

Never mind that she is 88 years old, incontinent, afflicted with dementia, and in a wheelchair.

The US military thinks she might remarry. She became a widow in 1993, and it's now 2007, but they're convinced she might still scare up a suitor or two.

Here's the letter they send:

Certificate of Eligibility

We have not received the Certificate of Eligibility (COE) we previously sent you.

We have suspended your annuity until we receive a completed COE.

Please complete, sign, and return this COE to Defense Finance & Accounting Services, US Military Annuitant Pay, PO Box 7131, London, KY 40742-7131.
If you have any questions, call toll free 1-800-321-1080.

Your marital status is required to update your account, please attach a copy of your marriage certificate.

___ I did not marry in the past year.

___ I married in the past year (please attach a copy of your marriage certificate).

Nothing I write to them on these forms can convince them that she is in imminent danger of remarrying and thus becoming disqualified for this pension.

Maybe we should fly to Kentucky and present the evidence.

I don't explain the form to Mom any more, joking that they wonder if she remarried.

It just starts her thinking and talking about the delicious possibility of remarrying.

An Animated Day

When I arrived at Mom's room at 3:45 pm, I found her telling stories with delight and great animation to two caregivers, Susan and Christina.
She sat in her wheelchair talking and laughing, her pink face full of life and joy.
They stood there watching her and laughing at her tales about her husband.
"So you enjoyed your husband. He was a good man. Here's Anne," they said finally after I watched for a few moments.
"Yes, and she's the product!" Mom exclaimed.
They laughed.
She wanted to go out and get French fries, to do something.
I'd been planning to take her to my house, in case my kids might be around for her to enjoy, but then I decided just to wheel her to the local deli to get French fries, as well as pick up that tube of Calmoseptine I'd reserved at the medical products store.
But as we were going out the door, my daughter Roz called on my cell phone. I wanted to talk to her, so I kept talking while pushing the wheelchair to Wilshire. Whenever I paused and just stood at an intersection talking, Mom demanded to know where we were going and why, so I pushed her to Von's, bought some kitchen waste bin liners, walked to the health store which had closed a half hour earlier, and went to the deli.
I tried to put the cell phone to her ear for her to listen and talk to Roz, but it didn't work. She doesn't hear phones or cell phones well any more.
Finally I ended the conversation, got the fries, and wheeled her back to her residence.
There she was happy to go to dinner and wanted to share her French fries with everyone.
I was able to leave without great angst on her part or mine.
A good day, but when I got home and found that two of my daughters were home, I wished I had brought her here to enjoy talking with them.

Friday, June 15, 2007

A Sleepy Day

Good news: the bacteria causing the UTI is Enterococcus, which is susceptible to Levoquin, but even more to Amoxycillin. So Dr. Rosen will switch her to Amoxycillin and "run the susceptibilities" on the culture just to make sure.

Anyway, she won't have to have an IV, which would necessitate her leaving Sunrise for a week again. That means I can leave for a week, as planned, without having her in the hospital.

With that issue out of the way, I meant to visit Mom at 2 pm and leave for Pasadena at 3:30 pm, to avoid traffic for a dinner date with John and two friends.

But I had other work to do, including writing about Calmoseptine on this blog, so I didn't arrive until 3:45 at her residence.

What if she's talkative, wants to come to my house? I worried.

"She's having a sleepy day," reported Marnie, the head caregiver.

Indeed she was sound asleep in her recliner, unrousable. What a relief that she wasn't going to be demanding and slow me down.

I bustled around setting up a new laundry hamper I'd bought, putting away Depends and Calmoseptine.

Then I tried again to rouse her, and she responded a little. I took her to the bathroom and then asked, "Would you like to go to dinner or go back to your big chair?"

"I want to go to my chair," she answered and I got her all set up therewith pillows, music on the CD player, etc.

"Okay, I'll leave you now," I said, "Unless you want to go to dinner now."

"Oh, I guess I could go to dinner," she said.

So I put her shoes back on, got her in the wheel chair, turned off the music and took her early to dinner.

By then it was 4:40. I ran to the elevator to begin my commute to downtown LA to pick up John and then drive to Pasadena against the traffic for the Dodgers game.

But at least she was happy and had been toileted and had had more stimulation than if I'd left her sitting in the chair.

At least she wasn't sad and whimpering like yesterday. Maybe the antibiotic was working to end the bladder infection.


I feel like I'm about to make a heist as I pull up in front of Long's Drugstore to try to get Calmoseptine.
Will it work? Will I walk out the door with two tubes of the stuff, gloating in victory?
Or will I fail?
These days Calmoseptine is practically a controlled substance. It's not out on the shelf of Rite-Aid or CVS. Why, I don't know. It's not like you could manufacture speed out of it.
I walk in optimistically and find the baby products aisle. Desitin, A & D cream with zinc oxide but no Calmoseptine.
I used to buy the A & D, but when Mom was diagnosed with a stage one bedsore, I learned that Calmoseptine is the best treatment (along with a gel mattress and gel seat for her wheelchair).
So I approach the pharmacists, safely behind their counter.
"Can I help you?" one of them asks.
I contemplate my answer, tempted to reply "That's an interesting question. I hope you can, but I've encountered brick walls at so many other drug stores that I doubt it."
Instead I smile sweetly and say, "Yes, ma'am. Do you have any Calmoseptine?"
"Yes, we do--no, actually we may be out," she answers, checking a shelf behind the counter. "Would you like to order it? We can have it by Monday."
Three days from now I will be in Santa Fe for a conference, so I won't be able to pick it up for ten days. Nevertheless, a tube on order is worth two in some warehouse somewhere.
"Yes," I answer wearily. I've placed orders before at the Rite-Aid I visit on a daily basis. How am I going to remember to pick this up at Long's, where I don't usually shop?
So much for the idea of just walking in and out with Calmoseptine.
"Why isn't the Calmoseptine out on the shelf with the Desitin and other products like that?" I then ask.
"Because there's a cost to us of keeping it out on the shelf," she answers.
I don't know whether she means people will shoplift the stuff or whether it just occupies valuable shelf space where more profitable products could be displayed. I don't ask.
It takes another five minutes to place the order. Then I walk over to the Depends, which I need to buy before my trip, hoping to walk out the door with something anyway and avoid another trip to a drugstore this afternoon when I visit Mom.
The price is $15.49 for a package of 18 refastenables, higher than I've ever seen before. "No!" I say to myself and turn to walk out of the store empty-handed.
But then I'm tempted by the thought of not having to enter another big store today, just visiting Mom and not having to take her shopping.
"My time is worth a couple extra dollars," I decide and take two packages to the check-out counter.
"How are you today? Did you find everything you need?" the checker inquires politely.
"No, actually I didn't," I reply. "You don't have Calmoseptine."
She cheerfully expresses her regret, and I walk out the door with my two $15.49 packages of Depends.
Defeated. Getting into my car to drive off, I realize that I'm upset, close to tears.
Is that crazy or what? Crying because I can't get Calmoseptine?
This morning I'd been reading Psalm 73, which says, "Whom have I in heaven but you? And having you, I desire nothing upon earth."
Except Calmoseptine.
I remember that the Rite-Aid pharmacist said they can't even order Calmoseptine any more; she suggested going to a medical products store.
While driving I call 411 and get the phone number of the store, which is within walking distance of Mom's residence. Maybe I can wheel her there for an outing this afternoon if they have Calmoseptine.
"Yes, we have it," says the clerk after checking the shelf. "Shall I hold it for you?"
"Yes--can I get two tubes?" I ask.
"No, we only have one," she says. "It's $11.95."
"Fine," I answer, my irritation level rising again. This stuff is gold.
I drive on to do other errands: the bank, the dry cleaners, and the small drugstore where I fill my own prescriptions. Why can't these stores keep ten tubes on hand?
Waiting for my prescription of Actonel, I inquire in a low-key way about Calmoseptine. No use getting my hopes up.
"Yes, it's right here," answers the clerk, going to get it off a nearby shelf where the tubes sit with every other skin product, completely accessible to customers.
I'm dumbfounded.
"There are just two tubes," she says. "We need to reorder. It's $7.50."
"Wonderful!" I say, resisting the impulse to hug her and the pharmacist.
Note to myself: buy Calmoseptine here.
And no need to read the front-page story on Newsweek this week, all about the stress of caregiving.
I think I could write it.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

A Light Day

I only saw Mom briefly today from 12:30 to 1:15 pm.
I knew her private caregiver would come at 2 pm, so I took the day off. I took the Depends and other things I had bought, toileted her, talked to her briefly, and left her in her recliner with '40s music on.
What a relief that two days a week I still pay a caregiver to be with her for eight hours.
I left a note about her bladder infection and rushed off to my own 2 pm therapy appointment.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Missing Rings

It's a great day: no doctor appointments or PT for Mom, just PT for me at 3 pm. But I have the news that she has a serious urinary tract infection.

I arrive at 2:30 pm to take her down for the music program, every Wednesday at 3 pm. Usually they don't take her to that--after all, they have 28 people they could bring to the first floor for it, and she likes to sleep in her recliner in the afternoon.

When I find her and bring her down for it, I immediately notice that her opal ring, usually on the ring finger of her right hand, is missing. In its place are the silver diamond ring and wedding band from her left hand. Her three-pearl ring is on the wrong hand too.
"Where are your rings?" I ask her.
"Take my rings off," she says with agitation. "They're going to steal them. I want to give them to my granddaughters."
I'm confused: did she removed the rings, or did some member of the staff steal them?
I leave a note in the Reminiscence Neighborhood office asking about this, and very quickly Elisa comes to talk to me: "She was agitated today. She take her rings off. I look in her bed, find this one. I can't find the other one."
"Oh, thanks for telling me," I say. "I'll take her bed apart and look for the opal ring."
There it was, on the floor between the bed and the wall. I put it on my hand to take home.
I also took the three-pearl ring, her original engagement ring, worn all her life. No use letting that get lost. Now her only rings are her wedding band with diamond and the other gold band that went with the pearl ring.
After leaving her at the music, I went to PT.
Then I came back at 4:15 pm to check on her. She was exhausted from sitting downstairs for the music since 2:30 pm. Actually, she was too sleeply for dinner.
"I don't want any dinner," she said. "I want to sit in my chair."
I felt that she had to go to dinner, so after toileting I took her into the dining room, even though she was saying, "No, no. I don't want to go to dinner. I want to go to your house."
"Not today," I said, but I was feeling guilty. I really hadn't spent any time with her, and she has a serious bladder infection.
She continued to whimper and to say, "Don't leave me here! I want to go with you. I don't want to eat dinner."
Marnie, the head caregiver, came up to her and said, "I have soup. You like your soup, Evelyn."
"Yes," she agreed.
"I'll give you some soup," she said.
"Okay," Mom said.
"Enjoy your dinner," I said. "I'll see you tomorrow."
"Can't you stay with me?" she asked.
"No, I have to cook dinner," I said. "Marie's waiting for me."
I slipped out of the dining room and off to the elevator to punch in the code that enables my escape from her demands, from the Reminiscence Neighborhood.
But my heart sank with sympathy for her demands as I walked off: she is sick with an infection, confused, just wants to be with me or at my house.
Spending time there caring for her or taking her to appointments is difficult, but leaving is difficult too.
Always I have the feeling that I have not done enough, that she would like me to stay longer.
She's miserable, and I leave feeling miserable about abandoning her.
There's no respite from that sadness. There's only the conviction that I need to take care of myself and accomplish some of my own goals in any given day.
But it's so hard.

Really Bad UTI

"You were right," said Dr. Rosen when I answered my cell phone. "She has a really bad UTI."
"It was just a wild guess, really," I said. "Because when we were at physical therapy Monday she said 'My bottom hurts.' She'd said that the Thursday before too, when the PT asked her if the range-of-movement exercises were hurting her. We didn't know if it was arthritis in her hips or pelvis from previous fractures or if it was a bladder infection."
"Well, you know your mother," Dr. Rosen insisted. "You know how to interpret what she says. I'm going to start her on Levoquin and when I get the results of the culture we can see where to go from there."
I put down the cell phone and reflected: all that effort yesterday to get the urine sample, and it turns out to have been very important.
She could have had it for weeks without anyone knowing or treating it. Perhaps she did have it for weeks. There's no way to know until she makes some kind of vague statement or becomes really angry and combative.
It's a complete guessing game, and it's up to me. If I am not alert enough to the cues, she will continue to have an infection.
Will this UTI be treatable by antibiotics taken by mouth? Or will she be ordered onto medication by IV again? In that case, she will have to go to skilled nursing or the hospital in order to have the IV.
She has been on Macrodantin (nitrofurantoin), 50 mg at bedtime, for a month in order to prevent bladder infections, but I guess it doesn't combat whatever bacteria she got this time.
If she has a BM in her Depend and sits in it for a while, perhaps there's no antibiotic that can prevent an infection. This occurred on Monday and Tuesday of this week. On Monday when I toileted her after physical therapy, I found a bowel movement in her Depend, and yesterday when she insisted on using the bathroom just before her catheterization, there was a smaller one.
Usually she demands to use the toilet for a BM, but if I don't take the time to invite her to the toilet after lunch, I guess it just happens.
I don't know what to do about this constant threat of bladder infections.
Perhaps in a nursing home they could do catheterizations more often, discovering and treating them sooner. But our try at a nursing home in March was a disaster.
Next week I plan to be out of town, so I'm just grateful we got started on treating this before I fly to Santa Fe.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Not a Fun Day

In February and March Mom was refusing her meds and scratching her caregivers, so her doctor recommended seeing a geriatric psychiatrist.
I delayed in making this appointment but finally called and couldn't get an appointment with the UCLA-recommended person, Dr. Stephen Chen, until May1. He takes Medicare, so there's no cost.
We needed help sooner than that, so I called a private doctor, David Trader, and took her to see him on April 4. He spent an hour with Mom and charged $295, but it was worth it.
After reviewing her meds, he added Namenda to the list and also ordered that she get a urine test just in case her misbehavior was being caused by a urinary tract infection.
The test showed a very serious UTI with bacteria that required an IV to administer the antibiotic. Thus the hospital visit, attempt to move her to a SNF, decision to move her back to assisted living, etc. (See April entries of this blog.)
Anyway, when May 1 finally rolled around, I took Mom to UCLA Medical Center to see Dr. Chen, so that her subsequent psychiatric visits would be paid for by Medicare.
But on that day I arrived late to pick her up, she insisted on a bathroom trip first (10 min. minimum), traffic was heavy, parking and finding his office was slow, and we arrived at 2:15 for a 2 pm appointment.
"You'll have to reschedule," the receptionist said.
So two hours were wasted without even seeing the doctor.
The rescheduled appointment was for June 12.

Getting to the Shrink on Time
Today I was determined to get to Dr. Chen on time, having been trying to get to him since March. But I still begrudged the time I had to put into this project, and I left the computer later than I should have.
When I arrived Ocean View Assisted Living at 1:15 to pick Mom up, I found her in the beauty shop under a hair dryer with her head full of rollers. I touched her hair: wet.
"She only needs five more minutes," the hairdresser informed me.
I tried to keep my cool, going up to her room to get her purse, sunglasses, and foot supports for her wheelchair. Then I sat down outside the shop and filled out the medical and psychological history forms (three pages) that I'd procrastinated on doing. I noticed she was wearing red velour slacks and pink striped socks with red SAS laced shoes--strange outfit. No nylon panty hose. Some caregiver other than Elisa must have been working today.
By 1:30 pm she was done and I had her in the wheelchair, heading for the elevator and the car. By 1:40 I was speeding down Wilshire Boulevard, competing for every foot of advantage in heavy traffic. At 1:55 I drove into the underground parking garage, found a space, and loaded Mom into the wheelchair. It was a miracle! We had a chance of being only a few minutes late.
Soon I was pushing her at a jog through the crowded halls headed toward 200 Medical Plaza, Room 2200.
"I'm going to fall out!" Mom exclaimed fearfully.
"No, you're not. You're fine," I panted.
When we arrived at the receptionist's desk, the clock said 2:04 pm. My watch said 2:07, so I was glad hers was a little behind.
I wanted to shout "Hallelujah!" but I was still nervous that she might declare us too late and make us reschedule.
Instead she started giving us papers to sign.
"Can she sign them?" the receptionist asked.
I glared at her.
Mom sat there in her wheelchair with her eyes closed.
Are you crazy?! I wanted to ask. Can't you tell she's 88 and has dementia? It will take fifteen minutes of coaxing to get her to sign her name five times.
"Okay," I finally said sarcastically, turning to Mom. "Okay, she can sign them."
"Well, do you have power of attorney?" asked the receptionist. "Because if you have the papers on you, you can sign them."
NO! I brought the heavy file of her last nine months of medical history but not the POA papers. Dammit!
"Yes, I have POA, but no, I don't have the papers with me," I said, trying to keep an even tone.
But then it occurred to me that they might be in the file somewhere. I pulled it out of my bag, opened it, and started shuffling through all the papers.
"Yes, I do have the POA documents with me," I told her with relief.
She photocopied them while I signed all the forms.
By this time it was 2:09 pm. Is she going to announce that we've missed the appointment? My anxiety level was still sky high.
I pushed Mom into the waiting area and collapsed into a chair for 30 seconds before Dr. Chen came out to bring us into his office.
"Would you like a mint?" I asked Mom, opening a packaged Lifesaver for her.
I'm more agitated than she is, I thought, pushing her in and trying to smile politely. He's going to wonder who's the patient here, her or me.

Talking with the Geriatric Psychiatrist
"Hello, Mrs. Eggebroten. I'm Dr. Chen," he said, extending his hand to her.
"Hello," she said, opening her eyes.
"I'm a psychiatrist," he explained. "I talk to people who might be feeling anxious or fearful or depressed. Do have any of those feelings?"
"Put your feet flat," she told him. She tells me and anyone else not to sit slumped with their legs crossed.
"Why?" he asked.
"Because it's better that way," she said.
"So do you have any of those feelings?" he asked.
"I don't want to think about being dead," she answered.
"Well, no one wants to die," he said. "Do you think about that?"
"Yes, I already died. I talk to my mother all the time."
"You feel you are dead?"
"No, not now. I'm just getting ready to be. I've got lots of dolls, and I'm going to take them with me."
"So you have a doll collection. Besides dying, is there anything else that makes you feel anxious?"
"Yes, my father told me I wasn't going to be a virgin any more. He told me to go spread-eagled, and I thought he was going to give me a piece of candy or something, but he didn't. That's why I want your feet on the ground."
"Oh," he said, uncrossing his legs. "Is that why you feel like you're dead?"
"I feel like I'm dead already, but I know I'm not because I have these good mints," she said, sliding the remains of the Lifesaver around in her mouth.
"What do you enjoy doing?" he asked.
"Playing with all my dolls," she said. "But the bad man steals them."
"The bad man?"
"The bad man has a collection too. He goes in my old room and sits there and steals my candy and spends my money."
"Who steals your candy?"
"The bad man."
"Every day? Do you mean your father?"
"He had just finished taking a shower and got finished shaving."
"Is this bad man mistreating you?"
"No, I won't let him."
"So you've been feeling agitated lately?" Dr. Chen asked, reading the medical history I had given him and looking at me.
"Several times in the last week she's been agitated, trying to get out of her chair or out of bed in the night," I explained. "Yesterday she took her rings off and lost them in her bed."
"They said I was already dead," Mom explained. "So I thought I should get my rings off so they wouldn't saw them off. They ought to be free so they could go to my daughters-in-law. And then I saw them walking around with them."
"Can you raise your arms for me?" he asked. "You know Lewy Body is related to Parkinson's?"
At this point Dr. Chen stopped interviewing her and discussed her medications with me. During most of the conversation her eyes had been closed.
"Her white blood cell count is low," he noted, looking at her records on line. "For her depression I think we should increase her Remeron to 45 mg. We won't add Namenda just yet. We can keep it as an option for later. There's another one that not an antipsychotic, Depacote, that we could use later to reduce aggression. She's probably on Exelon, not Aricept, becauses Aricept can cause vivid dreams."
"I want to leave now," she interrupted.
"She thinks her dreams are real," I said to him. "We don't want her dreams to be any more vivid."
"I want to leave!"
"We'll leave in just a minute," I said.
"We could also consider Razadyne," he said. "That helps with Alzheimer's. She's also at risk for Alzheimer's in addition to the Lewy Body."
"I want to leave! I want to leave!"
"We'll also consider slowly decreasing the Exelon in case it's causing her vivid dreams. It has gastrointestinal side-effects."
"I want to leave right now!"
"Okay, Mom. We'll get a banana split or something in just a minute."
"My diagnosis is severe dementia with Parkinsonism," he concluded. "At least it's that, whether or not she has Lewy Body."
"Okay, we'll go now. Thanks a lot," I said, wheeling her out.

And Now, for a Treat...
We arrived in the lobby of the building near the gift shop, and I noticed the chest full of ice cream.
"Would you like a Nestle's Crunch?" I asked Mom.
"Yes," she said.
I put one in her hand, taking off the paper, and bought an ice cream sandwich for myself. We both deserved a treat.
But the ordeal wasn't over.
Yesterday Dr. Rosen had told us to go get a catheterization done because of her possible bladder infection. She had called UCLA to tell the nurse we would be coming sometime today.
First a visit to the psychiatrist, then a catheterization, I thought. What a day.
I pushed her to 300 Medical Plaza and we went to the fourth floor.
"Hi, we're here for a catheterization," I announced, handing the receptionist the orange sheet Dr. Rosen had given to me yesterday.
He looked puzzled and went to consult his supervisor.
We waited twenty minutes.
Then a nurse came out and said, "I don't know if they told you, but you need to make an appointment. You can't be seen without an appointment."
"Oh, okay, fine. We can make an appointment," I said. Actually that's a relief, I thought, if she can't have a catheterization done today. It just means that I lose tomorrow morning to another trip over here.
I opened my appointment book and waited to make an appointment, but then the nurse reappeared.
"You know what, we'll go ahead and do it today," she said. "But you need to make an appointment for next time."
"Oh thank you!" I said, trying to look grateful for the renewed prospect of a catheterization.
We sat down to wait again.
"I have to go to the bathroom," Mom demanded.
"No, let's just wait for the nurse," I said, fearful that a trip to the bathroom might empty her bladder, rendering the catheterization pointless. That happened last April.
"Take me to the bathroom," Mom insisted. "I have to go to the bathroom."
Then it hit me: what if she had a BM in her Depend? I didn't want the nurse to take us in for the gift of this procedure and then find a diaper full of mess.
We went to the bathroom, where indeed she had some BM in her Depend. I cleaned her up and put a new disposable on her, returning to the lobby.
Suddenly I realized that that orange form I had given them wasn't an order for a catheterization. It was just the check-out form that I should have given to Dr. Rosen's appointment clerk yesterday.
If I had waited to check out properly, they probably would have called to make the appointment for today and would have given me the right paperwork to have this catheterization done. Instead I had rushed out to get to my own physical therapy appointment.
Oh well. Soon we were called for the procedure.
In the examination room, I lifted her up onto the examining table and the nurses and I proceeded to peel off her slacks and Depend. They swiped her pelvic area with iodine, noting that a catheterization poorly done could introduce bacteria and cause a bladder infection. I didn't want to hear that.
Mom whimpered and yelped with pain but they managed to get the plastic tube in and obtain a bag full of urine.
"It looks cloudy," the nurse said. Sure enough, the urine was too dark a yellow/orange and also opaque. She probably had a UTI.
They completed their work, I dressed her and got her back in the wheelchair. Exhausted, I took her back to the car, buying a raspberry iced tea for each of us on the way.
She was late for dinner. Fortunately, Connie, her private caregiver, was there to take over. I'd forgotten that she comes on Tuesday and Thursday.
That meant I had to go to the bank and get cash to pay her for this week; that way I wouldn't have to do it on Thursday.
I trudged off to the bank and back to Ocean View, finally getting home at 6 pm.
It was a doozy of a day.

Monday, June 11, 2007

'Unseen, Unsung'

There's a feature in the LA Times today, June 11, about caregivers and the mental and physical effects of caregiving.

It mentions a useful organization, Caregiver Resource Centers. There are 11 of them in California, serving about 14,000 of the 3.2 million caregivers in the state. To contact one of these centers, go to

Nationwide, there are probably 46 million caregivers.

Getting help can cut the high level of depression among caregivers by 50%.

See "Unseen, unsung" by Melissa Healy at this web address:,1,4022150.story

See also the cover story of Newsweek, June 18, 2007: "Caregiving & Alzheimer's: In a wrenching role reversal, adult children are struggling to help their ailing parents. The toll on families--and how to cope."

'My Bottom Hurts'

I try to work at the computer in the morning and do medical visits, mother care in the afternoon, but today Mom had a physical therapy appointment at 11 am.
Then at 2 pm she had a monthly check-up with her doctor, and I had a physical therapy appointment at 3 pm for a recent whiplash injury (rear-ended at a stoplight).
The scheduling was a bit tight, but there was nothing I could do about it.

PT appointment
Mom did her range-of-movement exercises with Cindy, the PT, her eyes closed all the while. I coached her to cooperate with the therapy, begging her to open her eyes now and then.
At the end, Cindy asked, "Okay, Evelyn, how do you feel? Do you hurt anywhere?"
"My bottom hurts," Mom answered.
What an odd statement: only her arms had been involved in the exercise, and she had given the same answer last Thursday at her first appointment for this round of physical therapy.
I got worried: those words were exactly what she'd said in April when she'd been diagnosed with a bladder infection. Since then she's been on an antibiotic daily to prevent UTIs, but who knows? She might have one again.
Mental note: report this to her doctor at our 2 pm appointment.

Doctor appointment
At 12:30 took Mom back for lunch and waited, then took her to the bathroom and made sure to arrive a little early for her doctor's appointment, so I'd have a better chance of getting to my 3 pm PT.
Once we were seen, I went down the list of topics to discuss with Dr. Rosen:
1) Conjunctivitis--seen by ophthalmologist and treated.
2) Spreading rash under both breasts--not responding to Neosporin. The doctor said it was a fungal infection and prescribed a cream.
3) Range of motion exercises being done per Dr. Motamedi. Thoracic support brace not yet bought.
4) TIAs? After one morning when she was very agitated and tried to get out of bed at 6:30 am, she reported that "The lights went out." That was similar to what she said in 1995 when some kind of event like a transient ischemic attack took place.
5) Possible UTI? Even though she's on Macrodantin?

Dr. Rosen said we should get a catheterization done, even though we'd agreed on our last visit not to do any more of those, instead to depend on the Macrodantin.
"It will have to be done by Home Health at her residence," I said. "I don't want to take her to the UCLA med center."
"Okay, I understand," said Dr. Rosen.
But then we debated whether reactivating the Home Health contract would mean that her outpatient physical therapy had to end.
"Oh, I guess I'll just take her to UCLA," I concluded.
"Okay, I'll call them and make sure they are expecting you tomorrow," she offered.

Then she told us her news: she's 4 1/2 months pregnant with her second child. She'll be off for three months Oct. 1 through Jan. 1. It was just a year ago that we started with Dr. Rosen after Dr. Charette had to take time off for her pregnancy with twins.

I hauled Mom up on the examination table so Dr. Rosen could check her perineum for bed sores, and yes, she still has a stage one bed sore on her backside.
Then I dressed her again and went to the checkout desk.

My PT appointment
Suddenly I realized that it was 1:40 pm and I still had to get Mom back to her residence before driving to my own physical therapy appointment at 2 pm.
But at the checkout desk another elderly patient was involved in some tedious discussion with the clerk, who was checking records on line.
I waited for two minutes, then just walked out the door, telling myself that all I needed was the next appointment in a month. I could call later for that.
I forgot that I needed the paperwork for the catheterization. I thought the orange piece of paper I was holding would suffice, but it was just a record of today's appointment and results to be given to the doctor's own clerk.
I jogged back to Ocean View, pushing Mom in her wheelchair at a breakneck speed.
I toileted her and got her situated in her recliner.
Then I negotiated the two elevators to the underground parking and drove to my own appointment. (There are two elevators and code pads to punch in so that no one on the memory care floor can escape.)
I was only five minutes late, and the therapist didn't seem to mind.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Singing "My Generation"

Hilarious video--seniors sing "Talkin' 'Bout My Generation."

The Zimmers Live on Graham Norton

via You Tube

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